Prescription Opioids Costs Database

Bulletin of the World Health Organization, February 2013 | Go to article overview

Prescription Opioids Costs Database


Buprenorphine, a medicine used to treat opioid dependence, is on average five to 10 times as expensive as methadone, used for the same purpose, according to the WHO Opioid Substitution Therapy and Morphine database.

"Opioids are not expensive medications but the costs of daily long-term opioid treatment for conditions such as opioid dependence and palliative care can add up," said Dr Nicolas Clark, a medical officer with the Management of Substance Abuse unit at WHO.

"There are also large discrepancies in the quoted costs," he said, noting that the cost quoted for methadone solution for one person for one year, for example, varies from a modest US$ 28 to more than US$ 34 000.

Buprenorphine and methadone block craving in people who illicitly inject opioids and, in turn, help to prevent HIV transmission, as buprenorphine is usually taken as a sub-lingual tablet and methadone in syrup form as part of standard opioid substitution therapy.

But not all countries where people inject opioids, such as heroin, offer substitution therapy to get them off the illicit drugs. …

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